Dana Fisher, who teaches agriculture at Central High School, has been named the winner of this year’s American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award. Last fall, the Virginia Farm Bureau selected Fisher as the state winner, which advanced him to the national competition. Fisher received the national award at the AFBF Annual Convention at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 14, 2013.
American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman (center) presents the winner's plaque to Dana Fisher (left), who was recognized as the national winner of the Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Young Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award. Mark Gilbert, representing
General Motors is on the right.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Dana and all of our Young Farmers Program participants, “ said Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor. “It’s great to see that they are receiving national recognition for all of their hard work and accomplishments.”
When asked about the award, Dana Fisher instantly recognizes all of those who have directed and supported him on his journey to this top recognition. “It really does,” he said, “take a village.”
He was a town boy living on Spring Street in Woodstock until his parents decided to move his family to the country. They bought fifty acres that came with a house, a dozen or so beef cattle, and seven or eight cats. During these years, from bottle feeding calves to raising a steer for the county fair, Dana developed a love for the outdoors and animals.
At school, Dana took agriculture classes and joined the FFA. Sherry Heishman and George Bowers, his Central teachers, motivated him to become involved in FFA beyond the school level. They encouraged him to enter contests and participate in leadership workshops, and they pushed him to achieve the highest levels of membership in the organization.
Fisher is also eager to spread the word about the importance of agriculture. He points out that agriculture is the largest industry in both Virginia and the United States. And he cautions that “by the year 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach 9 billion,”
which makes simply feeding the world a monumental challenge. “With increased demand and changing tastes, world food production will need to change. People will need to grow food in their own backyards, and those who grow food on a large scale will need to do an even better job,” he said.
“Dana is an exceptional agriculture education instructor for SCPS,” wrote Barry Arey, Director of Vocational Education. In his twelfth year as an employee of Shenandaoh County Public Schools, Fisher teaches Foundations of Agriculture, Leadership, Horticulture, and Natural Resources at Central High School.
He has been involved, along with teachers from other disciplines, in several major projects at Central including the FALC (a ropes course and outdoor classroom), the Rain Garden, the native tree arboretum, and Central’s recognition as a Virginia Naturally school.
On the state level, Fisher has been a leader in agriculture education as a member of the Virginia FFA Foundation and curriculum development committees. Dana Fisher was selected the 2010 Virginia winner of the Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award. Last fall, Fisher was selected as one of eleven inaugural members of Virginia’s VALOR program, a program designed to develop leaders in agriculture.
In addition to the honor and pride a national award conveys, Fisher also received registration for the 2013 Young Farmers’ Leadership Conference and the choice of a 2013 Silverado or a 2013 Sierra courtesy of GMC. Fisher chose the Chevy Silverado.
Immediately after being announced the winner, Dana was asked to describe an issue that he thought most important for agriculture. He chose to talk about giving young people hands-on ag experiences. Dana's audience of about 5000 people for his impromptu speech included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.
Dana Fisher (left) is all smiles as he accepts the keys to a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado from Mark Gilbert (Right) of General Motors. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman (center) looks on.
Every year for the last twelve years, Dana Fisher makes another choice when he signs a contract with Shenandoah County Public Schools. “Shenandoah County Schools is fortunate to have Dana Fisher. Not only is he a leader in the field of Agriculture, he is also an exceptional leader in the classroom,” said Dr. B. Keith Rowland, Superintendent. “Our students are certainly the beneficiaries of his hard work and dedication. We are all proud of Dana, and we congratulate him for his accomplishments. ”